Where?s Junior?


By La Vonda R. Staples www.lavondastaples.com

Note:? I?m soliciting comments and critiques on this essay.? I?ve left it in rough form.? I would like for people everywhere to leave commentary.? I believe that the person who has a story must be the one to tell his or her story.? If you have a family name.? If you have a strange name.? Please tell me about your name at lrstaples@gmail.com.? I would like to include your personal testimony in the finished product (?Notes From Nobody:? Volume One?). I can’t do this alone.? Please respond to me via email at lrstaples@gmail.com.? You can also leave anonymous comments on my blog:? www.lavondastaples.com.? For those of you who are family members you know how to get in touch with me – come to the house and let’s talk about it.? Call.? Something.? But if you don’t let me know how you feel?? Other than organizing the sections and changing talking points to intact paragraphs?? This thing will remain my creation.? Please help by responding.? Vonda


I don?t know if you have noticed but there used to be a lot more juniors (and thirds, fourths and even some fifths) walking around.? I don?t know if it?s the trend towards more creative names or if mean are starting to transform into more feminine and less assuming life forms who could care less for immortality (such creatures are usually more concerned with the compassionate here and now).? Forget trying to machine this essay!? I?m telling you that there seems to be a lot less sons named for their fathers.? Flat out.? No holds barred.? That?s what I think.? And I might be wrong but I have to stand on my instinct for this one as if I know it to be the undisputed truth.


What?s the history of junior?? When you see ?Jr.? or ?II (second)? behind a surname (especially for a boy or a man) you are given information without asking questions.? You can assume that the person?s parents are married.? That he carries the full name of his father.? And you can assume, in an extreme implication, that the father exhibited traits of which it is hoped that the son will portray or embody.? Naming a son ?junior? implies that the father is worthy to be duplicated and extended into another lifetime.? It creates a tradition in a name and gives a type of immortality to a family name.? Naming a son ?junior? places a label on a family as the deeds of the son, even if they are negatively counter to those of the father, will become the property of an entire family.


So why does it seem that juniors are nearly ready for the endangered species list?


Naming Practice Over Time and Geography


Semitic Names

Ibn Dawu (son of David)

Ben Hyam (son of Hyman)


Spanish name – Gives a combined view of the matrilineal and patrilineal geneaology; you carry your family tree for you lifetime


Franch name – Biblical name hyphenated with the father?s name of hyphenated biblical names (i.e. Jean-Baptiste which is John the Baptist).


Irish surnames often come from names of towns


British surnames are generally relative to type of work.? After the Battle of Hastings in October of 1066.? Nobleman who assisted William the Conqueror were granted the privilege of last names.? In the twelth century these names were compiled and placed in a document called “The Domesday Book.”? My last name, Staples, is over 1100 years ago.? The ancestors of the man who owned my great grandfather played key figures in the successful French take over of what would become England (Angleterre).


Japan and Africa

Honorific titles (suffix) such as woyo (Africa) and san (Japan)

Suffix of the male heir; especially those just below aristocratic class; the merchant class; suffix gives longevity; it?s a ?maker?s mark? of culture, longevity, belonging, individual vs. community, and acceptance.


Evolution of Black names to 1865.? Enslaved persons depending on class; could be classic roman or greek, i.e. Cato and Cassius.? Also were jokes, humorous signs of the illiteracy of owners.? Free men, use of ?pere? and ?fils?; Romantic Elder and Younger (but not written) ? spoken.


Freedman and house slaves ? namesakes became American English Jr. and Sr.

Slave owner?s naming was no different than the names of domestic animals or pets when there was little proximity; in close-quarters slavery naming patterns could enforce dominance & simultaneously establish ownership.? Example:? William Watson Staples (my great great grandfather) was named for the father of the man who owned him.

December 1865 it is legal for four million free people to marry.? Names follow feelings at Emancipation.? Suffixes follow linguistic/cultural aspects of former owners (i.e. Jr. and Sr. as opposed to Pere and Fils).? Freedom brought many things, not insignificant is the right to legally marry and in the marriage bed, create heirs.? To wealth.? To poverty.? To a standard of conduct and a way of living.? Black Americans could then say, ?we?re Jones son and Jones don?t???? They could also say, ?you are my son and you are expected to??? Before Emancipation marriages were rituals created by either the slave master or enslaved persons.? Children were the property of the slave master and sometimes the issue of the slave master.


Post 1964 the burden of political freedom was placed upon the shoulders in the lives of Black Americans.? For many reasons, the granting of access to public accommodations also marks the advent of lowered legalized relationships between Black men and women.


(Note:? explain why I don?t use African American ? it doesn?t fit and there are too few cultural and genetic remnants for

this term to approach even a modicum of accuracy. Biolgoically, the basic fact is true ? Africa is the source of our Blackness ? so the term, Black American is most correct.? On the other hand, Black Americans have just as much, and arguably just as strong ties with Europe and American Indians).


So? Where?s Junior?


In Black Americans, names bind to persons/family and not to the components of culture (language, place, position, ethnic group).? The use of a suffix tells you that the parents held a desire (1) for the father to continue, (2) for the son to imitate and surpass the achievements of the father and (3) to bind the son to the father as an extension of himself.? Further a ?junior? or ?second? also (4) signifies a married woman?s ?presentation? of a son to her husband and finally (5) for a father to ?own? his son.


Without a legal relationship and ude to the end of a prohibition banning the placement of a man?s name on a birth certificate if the mother an father are unmarried (the first legal document of an American citizen.? Even if that citizen dies seconds after birth ? a moment of American life means the certification of death must follow a certification of life).

Teen-aged mothers, at this point their pregnancies are still sources of (1) shame, (2) rare in middle and upper class and (3) proof of sin and (4) a harbinger or rejection of the mother (she?s damaged goods) and the child (the label of bastard is applied).? The mother cannot expect to make the ?best? marriage and must accept a mate with lowered expectations and greater thankfulness for the honour of becoming a wife.? These children were given the name of the mother?s father (i.e.? Jesse Jackson?s DNC speech ?Jackson is not my name?).? The status of ?ruined? due to illegitimate birth would less for less than a decade after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed.? There would be fewer ?owned? sons to present to proud fathers.? Jr. and II (and therefore III and IV) began their vanishing act.


Cultural exceptions

Nation of Islam ? dropping father?s name (legal relationship) and disregarding the relationship with the father and instead only viewing surnames as ongoing signs of servitude (slave name).


Afrocentric Naming ? Given names no longer only English, French, Hebrew (only ? of the Semitic majority) or German and Christian).? With the discovery of an African reality, many Black Americans embrace the other half of the Semitic majority in the form of Arabic names.? Many begin study of West African cultures and choose names from the most popular ethnic groups such as Ashanti and Yoruba.? Still others start to choose names which have the sound of Africa.? During this naming period ? the connection of a family name is disregarded in favor of individualism.

Also: the use of ?major? or ?sir? to force power structure, Whites, to address Black men with names of authority (as opposed to ?boy).


Creativity and Immaturity:? Aspects of Capitalism

73% illegitimacy:? very few legal sons due to generational illegitimacy where children carry surname of grandmothers and these names, in some cases, may be obtained from someone w/no relationship with the child.

Children of the sixties ? when illegitimacy was a fairly new facet of Black American life were absorbed into the extended family/kinship system and were given the surname of the mother?s father.? Later, as illegitimacies compounded upon illegitimacies many children have no connection with their surname.? Rather than the name of a grandfather, children have the surname of their grandmother?s father, husband (who is not the father of the mother of the child).? It is possible to be without any sanguineal tie to surname a child bears for the length of his natural lie.


Think of this:? DeWan?yay Johnson lives for sixty four years.? Johnson is his mother?s surname.? His father does not request that the child have his surname.? Johnson is the name of the grandmother?s third husband who divorced the grandmother before the mother of the child was born.? To keep a continuity or sameness of the surnames in her house ? the grandmother proceeds to name all of her subsequent children (and she has more after Mr. Johnson leaves) Johnson.? By the time DeWan?yay?s mother is born ? Mr. Johnson has been gone for at least five years.? DeWan?yay bears the name of a man his mother has never met and whom he will never meet.? ?Yay is not claimed.? He has no history which precedes his birth.? He is a unique creature named for the lead singer of a group his mother was listening to when she got pregnant or her estimation of how to spell the word, ?debonair.?? For a Black woman, this makes marital hyphenation an even greater joke as it is possible she has no relationship, primary knowledge or interaction with the person from whom she gained her surname.? Mrs. Jackson-Johnson has her great-grandfather?s last name because that was the last generation her family experienced legal marriage.? Or?? She may have never met Mr. Jackson.? Or?? Mr. Jackson is her step-father.? Or?? Jackson is the name on her mother?s birth certificate and all of the above are true.? Yet, the gift of a husband.? That prayed? for crowning achievement becomes annexed with what is a (at best) ridiculous attempt at individuality and (at worst) the continuation of lip service to a Eurocentric practice which only serves to further divide Black men and women.



Individual; unique; names only mathematical ?flits? of mind; fractals of time;

What the mother was drinking the night she got pregnant Aliz?

Popular shoe Aign?r

Mis-spelling (accidental) Lovecticus

Mis-spelling via ignorance ? using the wrong vowel sounds due to group pronounciation such as ?i? instead of ?e? as in pronouncing the word ?head? as ?hid.?? Or using ?u? or ?o? instead of ?a.?? Or the practice of dropping final sounds as a group to where a new word evolves (i.e. fa sho instead of for sure).

A name, for the Black community, is merely another distinction between this small population group of forty and not just world population but the continuity of time.

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